New Poll Finds 59% of Americans Support Post 9/11 Torture – Propaganda, Cultural Sickness, Or Both?

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.15.18 PMEver since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.

Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that – despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.

– From Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece: U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, but None to Their Victims

After reading about a new poll that shows 59% of Americans support post 9/11 torture, I’ve spent the entire morning thinking about what it means. Does this confirm the total degeneration of American culture into a collective of chicken-hawk, unthinking, statist war-mongering automatons? Alternatively, does it merely reflect the effectiveness of corporate-government propaganda? Is it a combination of both? How does the poll spilt by age group?

These are all important questions to which I do not have definitive answers, but I have some thoughts I’d like to share. First, here are some of the observations from the Washington Post:

A majority of Americans believe that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.

In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”

The new poll comes on the heels of a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which President Obama ended in 2009. The report concluded that controversial interrogation techniques — including waterboarding detainees, placing them in stress positions and keeping them inside confinement boxes — were not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.

This is important, because despite the Senate Report showing torture was not effective in acquiring intelligence (see: Revelations from the Torture Report – CIA Lies, Nazi Methods and the $81 Million No-Bid Torture Contract), the American public thinks it was. This is the power of mainstream media spin and propaganda.

Fifty-three percent of Americans say the CIA’s harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists produced important information that could not have been obtained any other way, while 31 percent say it did not. 

In a CBS poll released Monday, nearly seven in 10 considered waterboarding torture, but about half said the technique and others are, at times, justified. Fifty-seven percent said harsh interrogation techniques can provide information that can prevent terrorist attacks.

While the above is disturbing, if I felt that the culture is lost beyond hope and that my fellow American is akin to a zombified sociopath with no hope of awakening, I wouldn’t be writing on this website. I would have renounced my citizenship long ago and moved somewhere else. In contrast, I think there’s a lot to fight for in these United States and I think the war for freedom, civil rights and the rule of law can and will prevail. After all, I was admittedly more or less a zombie during the years immediately following 9/11 and for most of my time on Wall Street. If I was able to make such a profound transition (and countless of my friends have as well ), then there is always hope.

I continue to think that the vast majority of human beings are not particularly ethical or unethical. They are basically somewhere in the middle and thus very easily molded by propaganda. History pretty much proves this to be the case. My sentiments on the subject can be best summarized by something I wrote back in 2012 in the post: Humanity is Rising.

I have always felt that human disposition lies on a bell curve.  So let’s say for the sake of argument that 1% is just extraordinarily wicked, selfish, mentally deranged so along the lines of a Stalin like character.  Then let’s say the 1% on the other side is gentle, enlightened, and moral almost to a fault so a Gandhi like character.  Then the masses in the middle are not of any extreme disposition in either way, but are easily malleable and generally just “go along to get along.”  Well as far as recorded human history is concerned, the 1% of nasty, immoral parasites have dominated humanity through the various playbooks strategies that I and many others have outlined.  The 1% on the other side have generally been silenced or ostracized systematically by the control freak “leaders” and if that fails to work, they are simply murdered.  I mean even up until the 20th Century think about the kinds of guys that have been murdered.  Gandhi.  Martin Luther King Jr.  John Lennon.  Oh and if we want to go back a couple thousand years there was Jesus.  The list is endless.  Guys that talk about a higher level of consciousness and love and actually make inroads in society are murdered.  Yet no one ever seems to take a shot at the genocidal, sociopaths that run our lives through politics and banking (nor would I ever want that as I do not condone violence as a solution to a violent system).  Interesting isn’t it?  I think it is pretty obvious why this is the case.  The 1% on the decent side of the bell curve aren’t murderers.  The guys on the other side of it are.  

While certainly not giving the middle of the bell curve a pass for its unquestioned apathy and ignorance, I am convinced that the key variable here is information, which is why it is so imperative to conduct alternative narratives, and is why I spend most of my time working on this site. Glenn Greenwald’s recent piece in the Intercept helped to reinforce the impact of media propaganda in shaping public perceptions. Here are some excerpts:

Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.

Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that – despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.

This self-glorifying ritual can be sustained only by completely suppressing America’s victims. If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. That’s how the illusion gets sustained.

Thus, we sometimes hear about drones (usually to celebrate the Great Kills) but almost never hear from their victims: the surviving family members of innocents whom the U.S. kills or those forced to live under the traumatizing regime of permanently circling death robots. We periodically hear about the vile regimes the U.S. props up for decades, but almost never from the dissidents and activists imprisoned, tortured and killed by those allied tyrants. Most Americans have heard the words “rendition” and “Guantanamo” but could not name a single person victimized by them, let alone recount what happened to them, because they almost never appear on American television.

It would be incredibly easy, and incredibly effective, for U.S. television outlets to interview America’s torture victims. There is certainly no shortage of them. Groups such as the ACLUCenter for Constitutional RightsReprieve, and CAGE UK represent many of them. Many are incredibly smart and eloquent, and have spent years contemplating what happened to them and navigating the aftermath on their lives.

I’ve written previously about the transformative experience of meeting and hearing directly from the victims of the abuses by your own government. That human interaction converts an injustice from an abstraction into a deeply felt rage and disgust. That’s precisely why the U.S. media doesn’t air those stories directly from the victims themselves: because it would make it impossible to maintain the pleasing fairy tales about “who we really are.”

When I was in Canada in October, I met Maher Arar (pictured above) for the second time, went to his home, had breakfast with his wife (also pictured above) and two children. In 2002, Maher, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who worked as an engineer, was traveling back home to Ottawa when he was abducted by the U.S. Government at JFK Airport, heldincommunicado and interrogated for weeks, then “rendered” to Syria where the U.S. arranged to have him brutally tortured by Assad’s regime. He was kept in a coffin-like cell for 10 months and savagely tortured until even his Syrian captors were convinced that he was completely innocent. He was then uncermoniously released back to his life in Canada as though nothing had happened.

When he sued the U.S. government, subservient U.S. courts refused even to hear his case, accepting the Obama DOJ’s claim that it was too secret to safely adjudicate. 

There are hundreds if not thousands of Maher Arars the U.S. media could easily and powerfully interview. McClatchy this week detailed the story of Khalid al Masri, a German citizen whom the U.S. Government abducted in Macedonia, tortured, and then dumped on a road when they decided he wasn’t guilty of anything (US courts also refused to hear his case on secrecy grounds). The detainees held without charges, tortured, and then unceremoniously released from Guantanamo and Bagram are rarely if ever heard from on U.S. television, even when the U.S. Government is forced to admit that they were guilty of nothing.

This is not to say that merely putting these victims on television would fundamentally change how these issues are perceived. Many Americans would look at the largely non-white and foreign faces recounting their abuses, or take note of their demonized religion and ethnicity, and react for that reason with indifference or even support for what was done to them.

I’m not so sure this is the case, and in any event, we can’t know unless we try.

Keeping those victims silenced and invisible is the biggest favor the U.S. television media could do for the government over which they claim to act as watchdogs. So that’s what they do: dutifully, eagerly and with very rare exception.

Watching television is easy and addicting, particularly if you came of age before the internet. Television news is simply horrifying. On those rare instances when I catch a glimpse of it at the gym, I feel as if I have entered a bizarro world of idiocy and shamelessness.

Nevertheless, it remains true that a lot of the pre-internet generation still receives intellectual marching orders from the idiot-box. This is why I’m so curious to see how the Washington Post poll splits by age bracket. Either way, hope is never lost and the torch of liberty must remain lit and carried forward by those who care. That’s precisely what I try to do here at Liberty Blitzkrieg, and I ask you to do the same in whatever capacity you can.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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  1. Pathetic! Sad! Forgive them because they don’t really know. They are children in adults’ bodies.

  2. no, they are brainwashed from birth and believe their slavery is their freedom and that their minds are their own.Not so.

  3. What do you expect from the “collective programmed zombie herd”? They are less than useless. The only thing left to save in this country is the nature.

    Agent Smith was right. Humans are a cancer and the globalists think they are the solution.

  4. I never try to underestimate the stupidity of the sheeple, at the same time, I know that whatever the mainstream puts out is virtually always a lie, and I’m cognizant of the fact that ‘manufactured consent’ psyop operations are running parallel along with ‘persona management software’ to manufacture that consent through the use of fake virtual profiles.

  5. HEY AMERICA your 98IQ is showing! Even though I have talked to 1 person who agrees with the idiocy of torture, with ridiculous arguments to back him up, I can’t see how anybody would go along with the lamestream megaliars spew of lies and deception to justify torture let alone spewing everything the lying hypocrite politicians tell them to.

  6. Victim here from approximately 1950 to 2008. The taxpayer funded professional sociopath serial criminals got away just like Dick Cheney and his band of ” yes sir” careerism civil servants that are given impunity.

    Thanks for the article and all your effort to keep this in the limelight!

    • Well, now that the world has beenadvised of said instigators of torture it seems that special ops fellas could take care of said instigaters. There must be people willing to do the dirty work of scraping the slime from the panet.

  7. To be honest I’m not surprised one bit, especially given that many people support police brutality in one way or another, supporting torture isn’t much of a leap.

  8. The lack of outrage is deeply disturbing, Cheney admits torture, er where is the Hague?

  9. Mike, folks are awakening, slowly but surely. Yes, the poll results are disappointing. But, one sign, to me, of progress is that the ‘red/blue’ divide is failing, as registrations as Republicans and Democrats continue to fall.

    I only awoke after being unemployed for one year; before that, I swallowed the Wall Street/Republican/Neocon arguments hook, line, and sinker.

    I think middle and working class folks will wake up once the Federal government fails and the Social Security checks stop coming. Same for the upper class folks: once the Federal Reserve fails and the nearly-free money that flows to the big banks then to universities, venture capital firms, law firms, high-end real estate dries up, they will finally open their eyes.

    I think the black community is so much more awake to the criminality of our government — from 9/11 to the Federal Reserve to CIA and police drug running to police brutality — because they experience a lot more pain from it, unlike the Fox News crowd (which I used to belong to).

  10. The 59% who support it are woefully ignorant and have a sense of superiority over the rest of humanity placed there by the U.S. government’s greatest propaganda machine- state run public education. I have been thinking a lot about the educational system as of late. Every child deserves an education, unfortunately not every adult in charge of those children will ensure it without the state apparatus currently in place. I am not sure how we get past this conundrum. What I am sure of is something is wrong- empathy levels are down 40% in children according to a study (sorry I can’t recall the title.) What has led to this- it the lack of an attachment to faith or the lack of true connections formed between parents and children? Is it spending hours in front of one screen or another? I really haven’t anything concrete to offer but have used this guideline while raising my now grown children- who I have been told numerous times by educators and employers are great people.

    Men grow and become like that which they think about.

    I tried to teach my children to think of others and realize judging someone is unfair. That differences between people are important. That we become who we are based on what we live. That you cannot control anyone but yourself and that includes your thoughts. I am sorry to go on in what is supposed to be a quick comment but the grief I felt when I read this statistic was so overwhelming- I can’t believe it.

  11. AMERICA,you got away with the murder of prisoners of war,you even got away with murdering their women and children in front of them, in an effort to make them plead guilty to crimes they knew nothing of,BUT when your police gangs started rounding up the HOMELESS,and raping and murdering their women and children,YOU WENT TO FAR,THE LORD HEARD THEIR CRIES FOR HELP,THEY WERE CHRISTIANS,and he KNEW THEIR VOICE,and he heard their cries for help,THEIR GOING TO HEAVEN,…”BUT NOT YOU”,no hes going to make you WISHED you had NEVER BEEN BORN…you love hate, death and war,you’ll love whats coming,and you won’t be allowed to win either…….my, you morons have really screwed your self good this time……….

  12. Sorry Mike but I am pretty sure all hope is lost and that’s simply how people are and how things are going to be going forward. People like us who have opened our eyes and changed are the minority. Most don’t give a crap nor will they unless someone takes away their TV, mobile phones and facebook.

    It’s the idiocracy and the sooner everyone who has a clue realizes that the better. It saves on some frustration.

    • Wow, lots of comments to this fine article… let me pick some of them to comment:
      @Fatsolio: I totally agree to your first sentence… people are stupid, easy to manipulate and easy to distract (especially when you have to work, do your household, family-thing etc pp…
      but why then mention mobilephones/FB ? That shit exists just for a few years… and the sheep-ness exists since long before…shure it wastes additional time of your life, but i can not be a cause. I am shure people got manipulated since ages in one or another way.

      @Arizona: There is NO GOD ! All shit (and the little good) that happens is purely MANMADE !!! God is a lousy excuse for sheeps ! (like humans love excuses,… there is an excuse for everything, as far as I can say ! For murder, for stealing, for betraying, etc pp…. so ITS YOUR FAULT, not the error/will of some pseudo-virtual force that controls you !!! WAKE UP !
      (or accept your “truth” completely, and then ALL that shit that happens is gods will !!! Including Tsunamis, 9/11, poorness and stupidity of the people !) BTW: is YOUR god white, black, or female ?)

      @James Dickenson: First your people should accept the international court of justice in The Hague,… but I think I know why they don’t… what I do not understand is: Why the rest of this world has to accept your jurisdiction. I mean, why should any person (for example muslims) have to accept your way,… or the highway ? That I would like to have answered by your representatives in Washington once !

      and finally @ John G.: “slowly” and “once they …”, REALLY ? So, in your prospective: How many decades/millenia do we have to wait until everyone (or at least a simple majority) has woken up ? Its a little bit like the greenwald/snowden revelations… if they go on in the same speed as now, it will take them…well, i have no number of years at hand, but its somewhere in the future where i definately will not exist anymore… so WTF ? You create laws within a month (9/11 was a good example) and to remove them because of their unlawfullness you need ages to do so ? Nice… you like playing on time, right ? So how many thousands will have to die before you end the shit you started ??? THATS NOT GOOD ENOUGH !!! You can do better ! But you have to move your asses a little bit harder !

      Finally, let me say what an outsider of your system ( I live in germany) thinks about you people (as a country/nation):

      You are sick arrogant egoistic bastards ! Which is ok, as long as you do not force other people/countries/religions or any other kind of non-american standards to be like you ! And as long as you try so, I hail everyone who resists !!!

      Thanks for listening, and pls go on with this website ! It really gives me some kind of hope that not all is lost on you ! BTW: If you really want to change your sick system, why not use all the guns you carry ??? Or do you only use them against arabics, blacks and non-government people ? No will or no balls to do so ? Maybe elect someone else than Bush-Clinton-Rep-Dems next time, or do NOT elect the guy who spent most money, but instead someone who has an IQ >100 ? And if you can do so, pls try to finish it before the next millenium,… the rest of the world will be really grateful !

  13. Michael, Thank you for your thoughtful piece. Though daunting, and quite disturbing, perhaps 31% is a measure of some thoughtful consideration which to me seems encouraging.

    What is amazing is the numbers who allow the box to do their thinking for them. The majority of those I try to encourage to do their own research are quite happy to cling to the status quo.

    Asking them to take a look at anything outside of the manufactured reality is taken as an affront to their EGO and of course ego, in this culture, is preeminent. To paraphrase Cognitive Dissonance “They will not comprehend what they do not wish to see.”

    Sadly a majority of Americans have been so manipulated, when faced with questions of Tyranny, injustice and limitations on liberty will tow the party line with, “it is needed for our protection” or employ the classic walk away, “it has always been that way, there’s nothing I can do.” Both, of course, are an abdication of responsibility.

    If one questions the validity of the PSYOP notion, that our government and their corporate masters control the narrative, and endeavor to implant our perceived reality, I would ask that you focus on this one aspect: How effective is this Fascist corporate propaganda machine, when their efforts convince the majority to unwittingly give up their most precious human attribute; their FREE WILL?

    “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” – Steven Biko

    To show my appreciation I have re-posted your piece at Inflection Point.

    Credit and links back to your site are included. I have and added some quotes and “Inflection Point” commentary.

    If I have stepped outside your better judgement please let me know and I will remove the post.

    Thank you and keep up the stellar work!

  14. real islam stands against ISIS

  15. I don’t believe this poll. I think it is merely propaganda from the CIA backed Washington Post in order to let the perpetrators off the hook.

    • Whats unbelievable is the ignorance… like noone believed that the us-spy-system is actually spying on the rest of the world,… or the fact that black people still get murdered on your streets for no reason, …or … pick anything else that is going on since the ex-european put boots on the american continent.

      But if you believe it or not… its the truth !

      I wish we all will wake up and say “what a fucking crazy dream i had !”… but THAT will not happen…unfortunately 😉

      So… whatever your excuse is… forget it ! You ARE living in an unlawful country, people ARE dying worldwide because of your system, so the only choice you have is this: Fix it by yourself (as a democratic nation should be able to), or get fixed (like nazi germany was “fixed” 70 yrs ago) !

      And remember: Thanks to the internet EVERYONE can see what you’re doing… and thanks to people like chelsea manning (happy birthday BTW), edward snowden, julian asange and many more, there is no more hiding, covering up or denying the facts ! Now its time to get things done ! And hopefully you will fix it with the same bravery and force like you handle things overseas ! No pussy-chit-chat, use your full arsenal to get things RIGHT !!!

      (or switch off your brain again and go on watching fox)

  16. Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. – Orwell

  17. Gee, I wonder what % of that 59% are profiting from the existence of the so called U.S. Government.

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